Scene of the Week (12-16 June 2017)

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There were some superb scenes in the Rhona storyline this week, but I picked this showdown between Priya and Chrissie as my unexpected choice for Scene of the Week. With Rakesh gone, Priya finally felt like the shackles were off and with that her true strong and gutsy self re-emerged as she gave Chrissie a few home truths. Chrissie too seems to have now found the perfect balance in the village – no longer a simpering victim nor the camp soap bitch with the clunky one-liners, she now has the nastiness and snobbery that comes with power as she tries to lord it over others. She’s far more believable and enjoyable, in a love-to-hate sort of way, like this. It’s how she always should have been written. Priya too, no longer weak willed under Rakesh’s shadow, stood up to Chrissie, pointing out her shameful mistakes and holding her head high in the face of Chrissie’s finger pointing. It was a real punch-in-the-air moment for Priya, name dropping Chrissie’s victims like that on the factory floor, and it’s always satisfying to see that over-privileged family taken down a peg or two!

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Fave or Fail? (17-21 April 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that saw Vadam implode, we saw Pierce continue his twisted control over Rhona.

Faves

Sibling Love

w54agWe’re used to sibling rivalry in Emmerdale. Sisters that hate each other and throw slaps, brothers who try and kill each other. So what a joy it is to have the lovely Arthur and Gabby relationship to showcase something touching among a grieving family and prove that siblings can love each other and get along. Poor Arthur was upset at the thought of losing his big sis Gabby to Australia and worried she wouldn’t come back and so tried to block out his pain in that classic kid combination of sulking and avoidance. But Gabby soon broke through his act and gave him her teddy Widget to look after and the pair had a heartwarming heart-to-heart. Honestly, it was like allergy season and my eyes were definitely leaking. The sadness and doubts soon turned into smiles as Arthur gave Gabby his best advice for dealing with sharks and they gave each other a goodbye hug. We’re so lucky to have these brilliant young actors and here’s hoping that when Gabby returns we’ll get to see more of these wonderful family moments.

Building the Mystery

Emmerdale - Who Keeps Calling Pierce - YouTubeAs the build up to Rhona and Pierce’s wedding edges nearer, so does the intensity of his manipulation and darkness. Vanessa fell into a familiar pattern of meddling this week (just after she’d begun repairing her friendship with Rhoan, d’oh!) as she managed to get Pierce’s mother, Martha into the village. Since meeting Pierce last year we’ve actually learnt very little about him, and most of it comes from his own mouth which we know can be deceptive at best. We knew from his late wife Tess that their marriage wasn’t a happy one, but this week there was a big dollop of intrigue when it came to Pierce’s past and we were left pondering. Just how much did friend Gavin know and why was he okay to pop up to manipulate Rhona into moving? Just what was Martha like as a mother? And if everything Pierce has revealed about his childhood is a warped story, then what was his past really like? And what about Pierce’s previous behaviour does she know, was Tess just as much of a victim as Rhona? The mystery surrounding Pierce is an interesting one. He’s slippery, good at putting on a performance and twisting situations to his advantage and all of this in a subtle, underhand way. There are layers of darkness we’ve only scratched the surface of and if you’ve seen any of the press surrounding next week’s episodes, this seems to be only the beginning of his monstrous behaviour.

Crash and Burn

w54adI’ve got to say I don’t like this Adam and Victoria story AT ALL but the reason it makes my Faves list is simply down to the performances from Adam Thomas and Isabel Hodgins. Adam and Vic might be on a collision course to destruction in record time but the actors have given the big emotional and challenging scenes their all, even as the plot creaks around them. Though rarely used, when we have seen Adam and Vic they’ve been strong, supportive and really loved up. They’ve been believable as a couple and out of everyone in Emmerdale, they’d be the ones you could imagine staying together for years to come, deserving of happiness and their own big brood. If the rumours are true and Adam is on his way out, something which seems ever more like the way this story is being hurtled through, then it’s a real shame. We’ve seen everything from Adam this week – the bravado and his nastiness, the comedic and the flirty, and the pain in his vulnerability. But both actors have shown they are great at the gritty stuff and getting more accomplished as the years have gone on, so why are we only seeing them get a big story now and why so clunky and rushed?

Fails

Same Old Stories

w54dtI’ll pin my colours to the mast right now and out myself as a huge Pearl fan, but ever since she was dropped from the sexy book plot, it’s lost a certain something. It’s no longer a best seller, no longer cheeky and fun, but at the bottom of the slush pile. I’ve flip-flopped when it comes to David and Tracy. They have their moments but they seem to be stuck in a rut of repetitive sitcom-style storylines which aren’t doing their relationship any favours. Tracy is dumbed down to squeeze out a forced (un)funny line, even if it stretches believability (sure, of course she has no idea who JK Rowling is or that it’s a novella not Nutella) but then is seen cleverly turning the tables on David to teach him a lesson. Tracy seems to have no belief in herself and yet David’s attempts to boost her always have the opposite effect and he comes across as patronising and insensitive. We’ve seen this story with them before and it’s getting tiresome, particularly when both actors can do more than silliness behind a shop counter.

Plot By Numbers

Emmerdale - Adam Says There's No Point in Trying for Kids - YouTubeMore of a general moan rather than plot specific, but a disappointing element to a few of the stories this week was how the plots seemed to be formulaic and rushed, following a dot-to-dot pattern. We have Cain and Harriet’s affair (a tepid stepping stone on the path back to Coira, surely?) which seems to be following an illicit liaison formula but lacking any real spark or originality – there’s push and pull, playing hard to get, sex in the garage – but even the on-the-nose dialogue about a vicar hooking up with the “local gangster” makes this ying and yang affair a bit too knowing and try-hard for me. Then there’s Vic and Adam’s struggles to find a solution to this baby making, with adoption and unconventional family set ups rejected despite the fact Vic’s brother is adopted and Adam was raised by a man who wasn’t his bio-dad. It just doesn’t ring true. Plus the fact that in the space of three days the whole thing exploded, ending a seemingly happy and secure marriage, when six months ago, babies weren’t even on the table. Not to mention Vanessa was rolled out to give Adam a supportive ear when they’ve barely spoken since the Johnny plot and all in time for him making a move next week. If these stories had been slowed down a little – if we’d had time to see Cain and Harriet’s sparking interactions play out for longer before giving in; if Vic and Adam’s fertility struggles had been developed over months rather than days, then these stories might have been stronger for it.

Scene of the Week (30 Jan-3 Feb 2017)

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Victoria Barton really earned the title Queen Victoria this week as she completely destroyed Chrissie White in a brilliant take down. Having reached her limit and fed up of Chrissie lording it around the village, Vic finally snapped and tore into her former sister-in-law. With Lachlan banged up, Chrissie once again played the victim and was emotional and angry at the Sugdens for – in her eyes – gloating at justice being served. Vic was quick to put Chrissie in her place, giving her a tirade of home truths about her twisted son and the vicious behaviour of the White family which meant Andy was driven from the village and now can’t be there for his ill daughter. We often see Victoria as the kind-hearted sweetheart of the village so to see her stand up to Chrissie with real guts and fire was a punch-the-air moment. Brilliant moment and definitely one to watch again! Even Tracy gave a little impressed nod at the end!

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Jan 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a great week for the ladies of The Dales, with Bob’s appearance in Hunk Night being unmissable!

Faves

Hunk Night

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h57m02s833Hunk Night meant lots of great things in Friday’s episode (and no I’m not talking about the tacky and oily “hunks”). Firstly it gathered a big collection of the brilliant Emmerdale ladies looking glam and having a great time and who doesn’t love an excuse to see lots of characters on screen together having fun? It also created great little character moments like Ronnie ignoring Lisa’s important chat for a sneaky ogle and Zak backing out quickly in typical uncomfortable straight man fashion. It meant Bob got to shine (more on that below) and if was fun and loud – all the things we need on a Friday. It’s other purpose, dark and full of dread, was building the tension for Rhona’s story as Pierce grew more controlling. The tension was built and the juxtaposition between the party and Pierce’s mood made the after-party scenes difficult viewing

Party Bob

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h55m17s486I’m going to say it now to sort the wheat from the chaff – if you don’t love Bob Hope then we can’t be friends. For too long we’ve seen Bob stuck in the café like he was chained to his percolator, never to breathe fresh air again but the last few weeks he’s actually been around more and even being life and soul of the pub. On Monday we saw him serving behind the bar and dancing with the dream team of Charity and Chas (who were amazing this week too) but on Friday was where he really shined. We might be used to Bob giving friendly advice when he serves the lattes – and he was lovely with Rhona this week – but we learnt on Friday that Bob is definitely not shy and LOVES a bit of Hunk Night. You had to feel for poor mortified Carly but I loved Bob getting into the spirit of things and stripping to his boxers for a dance and happily talking about his stripper past with Chas. More of Bob getting his groove on and enjoying the party please! In fact, get him back in the pub working or otherwise!

Top Boss

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h57m23s455After Nicola’s accident at the Mill in the summer, her confidence took a real knock and after ups and downs with Jimmy we’ve seen her mojo take a kicking as she struggled to cope with the day-to-day activities at home. But this week we saw a positive change as Nicola regained her independence and her enthusiasm for work when she saw the state of the office Home James was operating out of and wanted to give it an overhaul. Is it any surprise when it’s home to four grubby blokes? Not only did this mean some fun comedy involving Jimmy and Robert, but it also meant Nicola is back to her organised and authoritative best. How long is that scrapyard going to look that neat and tidy though, really?

Great Performances

emmerdale-the-night-before-lachlans-trial-youtubeI’ve written before about my many issues with Lachlan White and Emmerdale’s missteps but despite this, Thomas Atkinson continues to deliver solid performances. Lachlan’s twisted to say the least and it’s in those scenes – when he’s trying to blag himself the family spoils, getting beaten up on purpose and showcasing his cruel plans to his mother – that his villainy is really watchable. Emmerdale’s characterisation is confused with it comes to the Whites but I can’t help but feel Lachlan on full-throttle bad – since they never made him remorseful – is the way forward, because with his history, eliciting sympathy cannot work. If Emmerdale went full on Joffrey Baratheon, then Thomas would ace it.

Fail

Courtroom Anti-climax

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-22h11m22s781This week was White drama heavy, centring on Lachlan’s court case over the shooting of Lawrence. It only happened in the summer, even though it feels about four years ago now due to the amount of time this story has dragged on, but with the court case done and dusted in a day the conclusion was finally approaching. It’s hard to sympathise with any member of the White family, often because when they’re not committing crimes (without punishment or much remorse) they’re not embracing their bad deeds but feeling sorry for themselves, in their privileged money pit. Boo and hoo. This trial was even more muddled than usual. Lachlan wasn’t guilty of attempted murder, but he did shoot Lawrence and the whole family conspired to frame Andy and they’ve all be remorseless about it. He might not be a gun-toting attempted murderer but he’s not an innocent young boy either, so hearing his family talk about him like that is bizarre. Therapy is what he needs, not enabling. All in all the drama surrounding Lachlan’s confession and verdict didn’t really seem to offer any sense of justice. The unfortunate problem with this long-running plot was that there’s a real lack of tension when you know Andy’s name being cleared is meaningless (actor Kelvin Fletcher has left seemingly for good) and the Whites won’t really be punished and will continue hovering between camp villains and victims. There seems like there’s a lot more potential there – particularly when it comes to a wealthy family protecting their psychopathic son against all odds, fully aware of and making no excuses for his behaviour – without trying to squeeze out sympathy for them.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Winner of Britain’s Best Soap, Emmerdale is firing on all cylinders with some incredible storylines this year. I’ve already given a run down of the lowlights and my Top moments #20 to #11, but here’s my Top 10 moments in Emmerdale in 2016. Here’s to an ever better 2017!

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10. Andy’s exit

Everyone was shocked to hear that Kelvin Fletcher was leaving Emmerdale after twenty years of playing Andy Sugden and it still doesn’t feel quite right without him. With Chrissie on the warpath, Andy faced a bleak future of serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, made even worse when managed to break from his holding cell in court. Yikes. Sure, the whole escape fiasco was soapy and ridiculous but Andy’s emotional goodbyes with Bernice and brother Robert let Andy go out on a dramatic high. His final few episodes saw the Sugden brothers at their best – immature swipes at each other and a rocky history but ultimately full of love. Here’s hoping Andy doesn’t have to stay on the run forever!

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9. Remembering Edna Birch

Emmerdale legend Shirley Stelfox sadly passed away this year and Emmerdale honoured the iconic Edna Birch with a moving and fitting tribute. Ashley and Laurel returned with the upsetting news that Edna had passed, leading to a touching exploration of faith and friendship as Sandy in particular suffered with the news. The villagers gathered for her funeral and tried to find closure in their sad goodbye. There were some especially lovely scenes with Sandy and Ashley as they came to terms with her passing and left her infamous hat to float downstream on the river. Shirley and Edna will be sorely missed.

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8. Lawrence’s tragic past

We’d known since Lawrence’s arrival at the end of 2014 that he’d been imprisoned for homosexuality but it wasn’t until this year that the tragedy of his past had properly been explored. After marrying Bernice he seemed fairly content, even if he was unable and uninterested in being intimate with her, but that all changed when Chrissie’s paternity came into question and Ronnie Hale came on the scene. The scenes in which we learnt of Lawrence and Ronnie’s romantic past and Lawrence’s agonising prison torture were brilliant, giving us the insight into Lawrence background that had only been teased before. Hearing Lawrence talk about his love for Harold and the electric shock therapy he had suffered was a particularly poignant moment in this interesting story and one which reminded the audience of others who endured a similar background and was new ground for soap.

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7. Bernice’s doomed love life

This year saw Bernice cement herself as one of my favourite characters in the village with her glorious displays of laugh-out-loud comedy and tear jerking heartbreak. Having resigned herself to a sexless marriage last year, she battled with the reality of this when Lawrence wouldn’t admit to his past when former lover Ronnie returned to his life. The breakdown of her marriage and the pain of loneliness saw Bernice drunk drive a bulldozer into the Mill and later collapse in tears. Bernice had a horrible time of it and found comfort again in the arms of the man she pined for, Andy Sugden. It was an unlikely pairing but one with chemistry that had been bubbling for some time and besides, who doesn’t want to see Bernice happy? But with Andy on the run it couldn’t happen and Bernice was forced to let him go and team up with Robert to help bring down the Whites, giving us some hysterically memorable scenes of Bernice armed with clippers: “I WILL MAKE YOU BALD!!”

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6. Emma Barton

Love her or loathe her, Emma Barton has had one hell of a year on Emmerdale and we’ve finally seen her fulfil the potential that’s been brewing since day one. Earlier in the year, when Emma lied about having a life-threatening illness (but then quickly confessed) I had high hopes for what the year would bring, as long as they didn’t make her too cartoony. I’ve been thrilled with how things progressed and while there were real moments of OTT crazy in Super Soap Week (chicken blood on the wedding dress for one) all of Emma’s extreme behaviour comes from a very real place. Gillian Kearney stole the show in Super Soap Week as she made Emma’s psyche (all she wanted was for James to love her, jeez!) gripping viewing. Sure, viewers are frustrated and want the truth to come out, but seeing the cracks appear and the horrifying lengths she’ll go to in covering up the truth are just cementing Emma as a real favourite of mine.

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5. Aaron and Robert becoming a proper couple

For beloved couple Aaron and Robert, 2015 was all about sex, violence, murder attempts, more sex and misery, but by the end of the year the love between them was thin on the ground. This year, however, saw a huge turnaround for the characters and their relationship as Robert offered Aaron unwavering and unconditional support throughout his childhood abuse revelations and the trial. Aaron drew great strength and comfort from Robert’s presence and reassurance, and needed him in ways he couldn’t lean on his family. In Robert too, we saw a refreshing new side as Emmerdale toned down the panto and restrictive villainy (we don’t talk about the teeth incident) and let him become more human – showing a wealth of love and loyalty in Aaron’s plight. It’s a testament to Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry that they were able to rebuild Aaron and Robert’s rocky relationship into a love story rooted for by so many. As the year progressed and Robron reunited, it was a joy to see their mix of passion and affection grow into a family unit, becoming one of the show’s best couples and their romantic journey in Super Soap Week (leading to a proposal) was a massive highlight of the year. Bring on the wedding!

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4. Holly’s Death

I’ll admit I was filled with dread when I heard of Holly’s return and those first few months – as she got involved with lightweight gangsters, made a move on Cain and got involved with petty revenge on Charity – did little to endear her to me. However, as Holly fractured the Coira powerhouse and turned back to drugs, the performances from Sophie Powles and Natalie J Robb shone as some of the best in the show. It was gritty, brutal and showed how destructive drugs can be to a family. Sod’s law had it that just as I had begun to warm to Holly and was fond of her surprising relationship with Jai (JAI – I liked Jai!!!), Emmerdale pulled out the rug from under us and Moira found Holly dead in her bed. We’d all been expecting an exit, but none of us saw that coming so soon! There was something eerie and different about the episode’s opening that left everyone curious, but kudos to Emmerdale for pulling off a true shock. Once again viewers were treated to stunning performances and the weight of Holly’s death made a huge impact, not just in the fictional world, but also to viewers who saw the reality of drug addiction at its worst, even when a person appears to be happy and coping. This was another moment which saw Emmerdale soaring in 2016.

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3. Aaron’s childhood sexual abuse

Another incredibly powerful and emotive storyline of 2016 was the reveal that Aaron had been repeatedly raped as a child by his father, Gordon. Gordon’s arrival in December 2015 sent Aaron spiralling into self-harm, resulting in him collapsing from septicaemia and eventually confessing about his abuse to Robert. By then we’d already seen consistently impressive performances from Danny Miller, but this storyline surpassed all of those, as time and time again he delivered each heart-crushing moment with a rawness that sent shivers down spines. The storyline was grim, uncomfortable and sickening at times but the script and the actors never shied away from the horror of the story and offered outstanding performances from all the main actors involved. With justice being served in a satisfying way, and Aaron having hope for a happier future, it felt like an unnecessary twist to have Gordon commit suicide, but ultimately this storyline was tackled in a moving and truthful way and seemed a fitting backstory in light of Aaron’s adolescent struggles.

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2. Ashley’s dementia

Ashley’s dementia was an obvious highlight towards the end of 2015, but this year has really seen its progression and the deterioration, particularly in recent months, has been an affecting and ground breaking storyline. At the heart of this storyline, John Middleton has played every moment of heartbreak with nuance and a real understanding of the tragedy involved in dementia. Getting a long-term illness right in soap is a difficult business, when the realistic speed of illness can jar with a pacey need for dramatic twists but Emmerdale has struck the balance just right. At every turn, we’ve seen the wider impact on Ashley’s family (on his children and their behaviour, on Laurel’s alcoholism and struggle to hold everything together – with all of these featuring stellar acting), his identity and faith – as well as sitting alongside the soapier elements such as Emma’s big secret. Ashley’s special episode was a superb decision by the producers, giving the audience a ground-breaking insight into life from the perspective of someone with dementia and highlighted all the strengths of this hugely important storyline.

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1. Super Soap Week

Expectations were sky high for Emmerdale’s special week in October and as information and spoilers were drip-fed to us, excitement built. Surely it couldn’t be as good as we were hearing? Wrong! In breath-taking scenes, Emmerdale secured itself at the top of the soap game with a week that would be remembered as some of the best material in the soap genre. With each episode showing the same day from the perspective of different characters we had insight into characters in a way we’d never had before, allowing long scenes and meaty material showcasing the incredible talents of all the cast involved. For Emma Barton and Robert Sugden, these episodes offered real defining moments as the former reached her incredible and unnerving potential and the latter had his long awaited and important heart-to-heart about his bisexuality. The week had it all, like six blockbusters strung together – romance, comedy, horror, drama and action – and for the first time ever we got to see the Hotten Bypass! The episodes were shot with glossy film style cameras which gave the week a real movie feel and the epic stunts were jaw-dropping and awesome in the real sense of the word. The best thing about Super Soap Week is the way the stories interlinked and made everyone’s brains go into overdrive as we tried to piece the story together, meaning you had the urge to rewatch the episodes multiple times to pick up on all the details. It was truly unmissable and aside from the stunt (which was a huge spectacle in itself) the plot was driven by real character moments and a sense of jeopardy.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part One (#20-11)

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Another year of Emmerdale is over and what better way to celebrate than to look back at some of Emmerdale’s best moments from 2016. This post covers moments I’ve ranked from 20 – 11. Tomorrow I’ll post the moments I’ve ranked 10 – 1 and a quick run down of the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20. David’s testicular cancer

Overall David’s testicular cancer plot was a mixed bag, marred by prolonged and irritating “comedy”, but it makes my Top 20 for Matthew Wolfenden’s committed and emotional performances. After a results mix-up, David was devastated to learn of his diagnosis, but moments of very “David” levity (such as his drunken and naked conversation with his balls) were balanced by his emotive conversations with Zak and the touching father-son relationship with Jacob. David’s treatment, supported in lovely scenes with his family, saw him meet upbeat Dylan, who later tragically died (predictable but still sad) and David eventually faced his illness with bravery and a middle finger up to cancer.

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19. Teenage Dream

This year saw the arrival of Liv and the recast of Gabby, giving us a very talented trio including Jacob. Their plots have been a little hit and miss on the likeability front but all of them have had tough emotional and sensitive storylines to shoulder and delivered at every turn. The casting for both Liv and Gabby has been fantastic and their friendship (when they’re supportive rather than destructive) has great potential. My hope for next year is that Emmerdale give all three (and especially the girls) room to grow from their experiences, rather than reverting to bad and immature behaviour when the plot needs some instant friction. As we’ve seen from interactions with the adults that surround them, they’re capable of being astute and considerate – they can be teens without being brats.

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18. Community Spirit

One of new producer Iain MacLeod’s goals when he took over the reins of the show was to give Emmerdale a greater community feel and I think it’s definitely improving. Apart from attendance at funerals and weddings we’ve seen more of an overlap between characters and stories existing outside of their bubbles. This subtle shift has included things like the charity fundraiser hosted by Megan, the fireworks night and the pub quiz – all with little character groups mixing and hovering in the background. This has also benefited the balance of characters with this year feeling as if everyone’s getting a chance to shine, rather than a heavy focus on a select few. The Christmas episodes too had a great feel for family and community but I’d definitely like to see more of this.

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17. Tracy Shankley’s vulnerability 

One of the real surprises of 2016 was Tracy Shankley and some show stealing performances from Amy Walsh. While Tracy can be a bit brash and Marmite, we got to see more of her vulnerabilities this year and some heart-tugging emotional moments that made me soften towards her. The jury’s still out on dad Frank, whose secret fell flat, but it’s been nice to see Tracy settle in to the village a bit more and her relationship with David has had some sweet moments too, but this is possibly overshadowed by the unlikely friendship she’s forged with Eric.

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16. Lisa Dingle’s big heart

Lisa Dingle had a rough old year. 2016 started with her having to watch Zak and Joanie cosy up and then marry, but things got even worse as Belle’s mental health problems saw her go missing. It’s been a busy and miserable year for Lisa but I remain forever impressed by the size of her heart and the wealth of kindness and compassion she bestows on others, and Jane Cox gives Lisa the warmth that we all love. This year we saw Lisa find a new friend in Ronnie Hale which was exactly what she needed. I can only hope 2017 is better for Lisa and that if she lets Zak back into her life, then it’s on her own terms.

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15. Chrissie White goes Gone Girl

One of my controversial choices for the Top 20 is Chrissie White’s foray into superbitch territory, which for a few weeks was fun viewing. On discovering that Andy had slept with Bernice again and wasn’t the perfect man she’d assumed of him, Chrissie decided to make him pay and began a twisted revenge. The scenes in which Chrissie double-crossed him and saved her villainy for us, the knowing audience, was a treat. Slightly camp, slightly outrageous but enjoyable to see Chrissie with her claws out rather than the simpering victim she had been before. Sadly this moment of twisted villainy didn’t last long and the magic was lost as the plot descended into a family war.

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 14. Adam and Victoria’s solid relationship

They might not be the most dramatic couple in The Dales but they’re easily the sweetest and one of the most settled. At the start of the year Adam had to face the heartbreak that baby Johnny wasn’t actually his son after all and it’s a real shame that this heavy emotional drama, which gave Adam and Vic some great material, was brushed under the carpet very quickly. After this they both settled into the background, but they remained a constant reminder of what a cute and well suited couple they are as they dealt with their families’ bigger dramas. Adam and Vic are a nice reminder of a solid and relatable couple and Emmerdale should use them a lot more!

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13. Rhona discovers Paddy’s affair

Okay so the Paddy/Tess affair was a real lowlight of 2015/2016, coming close to ruining Paddy’s character forever but the thrilling shock of Tess’s death and Rhona’s discovery of the affair almost made the hot mess of the storyline worth it. Rhona finding out about the affair came after the accident meaning she could never confront Tess and never really get any closure (which might be why she latched onto Pierce so readily). Paddy received the brunt of Rhona’s devastation, including a shock slap, but Rhona didn’t hold back on Tess either, calling her a bitch. After a quiet 2015, it was fantastic to see Rhona take such a prominent role in the show, particularly with Zoe Henry showcasing her skill at taking Rhona from the guts and fire of her anger to her anguished heartbreak.

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12. Laurel’s on-going struggle

Charlotte Bellamy continues to be one of Emmerdale’s biggest assets as 2016 was another big year for Laurel. Contending with Ashley’s illness and deterioration as well as her pregnancy is enough for anyone to cope with, but Laurel had the added battle with her alcohol addiction as the pressure on her mounted. Charlotte gives impressive performance after impressive performance, whether she’s being vicious under the strain of responsibility, or quiet and fragile at her breaking point. I can only imagine how crushing her reaction will be when Ashley dies and I’m sure Charlotte will be picking up lots of awards in the new year.

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11. Paddy’s return

This time last year the Paddy we knew and loved felt like a distant memory and many of us were united in the utter hatred of his affair plot with Tess (RIP). Fast forward to August, Paddy had been working in Germany and he came back to us, fresh and funny and like the man we’d thought we’d lost. Back were the one-liners, the stuttered buffoonery, the brilliant bromance with Marlon and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The character and the audience really benefitted from the breather off-screen. Now the Tess plot is all but a distant memory and even Paddy admitted was the biggest mistake he’d made (shading storyline decisions maybe?), but I’m just glad he’s back to his best.

Come back tomorrow to read my Top 10 of 2016!

Fave or Fail? (28 Nov-2 Dec 2016)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Sitcom capers aside, a good week full of some of Emmerdale’s best partnerships.

Faves

Love and Lies

vlcsnap-2016-12-04-15h49m27s215Not so long ago it seemed like Robert Sugden took a giant step back in character development and acted in a way that left many fans baffled when he shared a kiss with former flame Rebecca. (I was fuming FYI). This week though, this weird personality transplant was revealed to be one of Rob’s not-so-genius plans as he revealed he was using lovesick Bex and thankfully was still head-over-heels for stubbly-squeeze, Aaron. Even though the signposting of this kiss-plan could have been handled better, the more human Robert we’ve come to know and love returned. Yay! This week saw Robron at their very best and from their coupley closeness to their blazing rows, showed exactly why Emmerdale’s winning formula of Danny Miller + Ryan Hawley just works. Aaron’s take down of Rebecca as he called her bluff and made Robert sweat was a particularly good scene as was Robert’s continued maturation at finding a conscience and a family with Aaron. Their argument and make-ups now seem a lot more honest and raw compared to months where we had bitty on and off again spats. They’re strong now, but still as messy and enjoyable as they always were.

Stay off my Land

vlcsnap-2016-12-04-15h38m51s581The enjoyably manipulative Emma tried to meddle with Coira this week as she was fearless in facing up to Cain and tried to drive a further wedge between him and Moira. And with Moira’s hilarious towing of Cain’s caravan to a faraway field she told him loud and clear to stay off her land – Emma had the upper-hand. While I admit to being a Coira fan and think it seems pretty inevitable that they’ll reunite, it was good to see Moira take a stand after the heartbreak he’s caused. Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb are another Emmerdale pair that make the arguments and the love just seem so real between them so even though it’s sad breaking to see them fight, it’s great TV. Moira’s confrontation of Cain in the pub during his birthday (nice touch on the cake btw, Dingle family!) was crushing when we know Cain tried to put his heart and soul into that card, but it’s scenes like that which make the intensity of their connection shine.

Thirty Years in the Making

vlcsnap-2016-12-04-09h53m15s162Lawrence and Ronnie’s tragic relationship full of pain and pining came to a head this week as they finally decided to give things a go with Lawrence declaring his love for Ronnie in front of a rather shippy Bob. Aww. Of course, it being Emmerdale, it wasn’t as easy as that sounds. Not only has it taken thirty years, but even this week with Ronnie leaving the village, Lawrence struggled to say how he really felt and dismissed his begging of Ronnie to stay as a drunken mistake. While their scenes have been consistently interesting to watch as we uncovered the tragic ups and downs of their past, and Lawrence’s declaration was satisfying and emotional, I can’t help but feel maybe their past was more interesting than their present will be, particularly as Ronnie seems too sweet to fit in with the snobbery at Home Farm.

Burned too Many Times

vlcsnap-2016-12-04-15h42m02s567I really enjoyed Vanessa’s role in the (still disappointing) Frank plot this week. Michelle Hardwick gave a really feisty performance as Vanessa wasn’t ready to forgive dad Frank’s constant lies. While Tracy and co were transfixed by Frank’s stories, Vanessa refused to believe his lies and exploded when she realised they’d all been taken for fools again. I love seeing this gutsy, angry side to Vanessa when she thinks she’s been played and I especially enjoyed her making a toast to useless fathers and holding her ground when Frank tried to wheedle his way back in. Although she’s taken a firm stance against him, angry at herself for starting to feel sympathy for him before, she seems to be on her own in this view and I have a feeling she might be right when it comes to Frank’s unreliability. Watch out, Tracy!

Fail

Carry on Courtroom

vlcsnap-2016-12-02-19h45m15s986It wasn’t long ago Andy managed to do his own version of the Great Escape (which was only slightly less outlandish than EastEnders’ Max Branning’s run from court) but once again saw Emmerdale take on an infeasible break-out. Desperate to get herself back in the Whites’ good books, Rebecca attempted to break her nephew Lachlan out of court (for a life on the run? Great idea – not!) blackmailing Robert to help. While the escape didn’t go ahead, the scenes where Rebecca swiped a security pass with a sitcom style disguise and both her and Robert faked it to make it – you can’t help but think no security system would be that pathetic, even in Hotten! It wasn’t the worst suspension of disbelief I’ve ever seen in soap, particularly as the scheme didn’t go ahead fully and Robert and Rebecca winged it with just enough charm, but the fact it happened so soon after Andy’s breakout stretches the believability just a tad…

Farce and Fall Outs

vlcsnap-2016-12-02-19h47m41s029On paper a story that involved Bernice, Jimmy and Nicola would be a hit with me – all three are fantastic characters and frequently bring a laugh to my evening but this week’s story was a real misstep. Lonely Bernice and knackered Jimmy found themselves at a hotel and it wasn’t long before a suspicious and paranoid Nicola got the wrong idea. When it would have been quite easy for Jimmy to own up to his continued lack of sleep and sort out this whole unnecessary miscommunication between him and Nicola, the lies rumbled on and so did the prolonged and OTT comedy. Sure, there were funny moments, like Bernice hiding in the cupboard and shielding her ears from sex noises and the over-involved hotel manager but it was all too much to the point of it being boring. What this story and Emmerdale definitely didn’t need was another character sharing a kiss with someone that wasn’t their partner and then lying about it, only to be found out later. And worst still, we literally just had this with Nicola and Dan! I really love the Kings’ marriage but lately they’ve had the same rows and silly make-ups and it’s stopped being as sweet and funny. All three characters deserved better than this story and better comedy than this too!

Fave or Fail? (19 – 23 Sep 2016)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that saw David and Tracy get hitched, the best drama came from some unexpected romances.

Faves

Sparks Fly

emmerdale-holly-tells-jai-shes-leaving-youtubeThere might have been love chemicals in the water this week as three potential romances started brewing. First up and perhaps somewhat controversially it was Jai and Holly. It’s still jarring to see Jai so nice after last year (but let’s be real, lots of characters had an iffy 2015 on the villainous front) but if you can overlook the age gap between him and Holly, then their flirtation at David and Tracy’s wedding was well done. Neither of these two characters are favourites of mine but it was a welcome change to see them both smiling and sharing rather sparky conversation. However, with both of them having difficult times in the past with drugs, them hooking up might not be for the best. Then there was the brief tease of Pete and Leyla, whose terrible attempts at flirting came with sparkly eyes and hair flicking, but fizzled out by the end of the week. I still think there’s potential there! Finally, a pairing that looks to continue next week is Megan and Frank. It’s easy to see why she’d be charmed by him and it’s great to see Megan, an underappreciated character and a great actress, have more screentime!

Team Sugden

vlcsnap-2016-09-25-09h44m26s079I’ve often lamented Emmerdale’s lack of a proper story for Victoria Barton (nee Sugden) and this week we saw her get feistier as she learnt the truth about Chrissie White’s plot to frame her brother Andy. I love when Vic and Robert share scenes as they make a great sibling duo and her being able to juggle her catering business as she rescued him was an amusing watch. Even better was when she heard of Chrissie’s true colours and delivered a winning impression of Chrissie’s snooty flattery, before vowing revenge on the Whites. She’s smarter than Bernice and less reckless than Robert, so with any luck she’d be able to do a better job at taking down the Whites! If anything, this week confirmed that we need to see more of Victoria in action rather than being kept in the dark or standing on the sidelines.

Paddy Power

vlcsnap-2016-09-25-09h45m02s185Paddy’s possessive behaviour this week continued but again it was played for laughs. From rowing with Pearl about coasters to dressing up in a crown and throwing water at Chas to protect his castle – it was laugh out loud funny. But as Chas got through to him he broke down, gutted that he really had lost his chance and it was all over with Rhona. We saw his true vulnerability too as he was upset about potentially being cut out of Leo’s life too and the scenes of his realisation that he needed to move on were touching. A far cry from his behaviour at the start of 2016! As Chas offered her support it really made me cherish their friendship, my only hope is that they don’t turn this great friendship into an unnecessary romance.

Jimmy’s Sticky Situation

vlcsnap-2016-09-25-09h45m23s977It was a silly and bizarre little plot in this week’s Emmerdale but Jimmy King’s comedic expressions always gives me a good giggle. As Nicola and Jimmy tried to get their marriage back on track, he decided to attend a toddler club with Carl for a bit of peace. Only, unfortunately for Jimmy, it was at the same time as a meeting for coping with grief and a case of mistaken identity lead to Jimmy pouring his heart out about his “dead” wife as well as fitting in a good moan about Nicola. Nearly getting caught lying the next day by Bob, Jimmy had to think quickly on his feet and pretend his “late” wife was a pastry chef and sweet treats like that brought back too many memories. Sometimes it’s these small and silly stories with Jimmy that deliver the best awkward laughs and this is certainly one of them!

Fail

Sitcom Overload

emmerdale-tracy-is-covered-in-mud-on-her-wedding-day-youtubeMy interest in David and Tracy has waned since his refusal to take no for an answer and the increasingly irritating proposal schemes but thankfully with them getting wed this week it might quieten down. While I loved the gathering of characters for the “Hag” party and the wedding, there seemed to be one too many farcical scenes which leaned more on the sitcom than it did on the soap. While it’s fun seeing parties and costumes now and again, David and Tracey keep making a habit of it and it loses its comedy factor – maybe it’s time the fancy dress box had a rest? Then there was Frank’s kidnap of Tracy on her wedding day, a car crashing into a lake, a trek through a field, a mud-splashed dress, topped off by a performance of Steps as the final proposal effort. All things that might have been funny on their own (and the Steps routine did raise a smile, granted) but together it was all a bit too much. Besides, the Tracy/Frank/Vanessa story deserves more than having these silly slapstick adventures.

Fave or Fail? (15-19 August 2016)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Another great week in Emmerdale which saw Andy go on the run as Chrissie’s revenge stepped up a gear.

Faves

Andy’s Exit

vlcsnap-2016-08-20-17h56m02s505We lost an Emmerdale stalwart this week – Andy Sugden – and I’m really sorry to see him go. Despite his long tenure on the show, his exit has left the door open (#Justice4Andy) and hopefully he might make a triumphant return one day even if it’s just to call into The Woolpack for a pint. His surprising exit storyline might not have been perfect, perhaps rushed in parts, but his prison escape and plans to run were thrilling and emotional – exactly what a good exit should be. While some have raised an eyebrow at Andy’s yo-yoing affections when it comes to the women in his life, I loved the mutual pining and unlikely, awkwardly-timed pairing that he and Bernice made, so I was glad she played a significant role right to the end. Andy and Bernice have always had an enjoyable chemistry and spark and while we all knew it wouldn’t work in the end, there’s always that desire and ‘what-if’ feeling that somehow, at some point it could (and should?). Basically, I’m a sucker for a tragic love story and Andy’s exit ticked that box for me, especially as Bernice is just one of those characters you really hope will find the happiness she deserves. With Andy leaving to the sound of Snow Patrol’s Run, it tugged at the heart strings and I hope we get to see him back in the dales one day, probably making more questionable choices in his love life.

So Far Gone Girl

vlcsnap-2016-08-20-17h58m23s957At this rate, Chrissie’s camp villain routine is going to be on my Faves list every week but once again she proved herself to be such an enjoyable character to watch. Yes, she may have fallen off the sanity bus but watching her go full on Amy Dunne, Gone Girl style, to ruin Andy’s life was a great moment of shock. Picking up straight from where Friday’s episode left us, Chrissie didn’t let Andy go quietly and slashed her own wrist before an Oscar worthy performance that left everyone wondering how Andy could behave like this. Chrissie has almost everyone fooled with her saintly routine in front of Andy’s family and seeing her duplicitous act is as fun as it is frustrating. She just suits it – the elegantly evil glide down the stairs with a glass of champagne in her hand and the acts of deception. It’s perfect. You might be against her behaviour but she sure is someone you love to hate. It’s exciting to find out just how far she’s going to go next.

Brotherly Love

vlcsnap-2016-08-20-19h22m15s008He might not have been grateful to begin with but having his brother Robert show up, knight in shining armour style with his vintage motor and sarcasm a plenty, was exactly what Andy needed to rescue him. The banter between the two brothers was on fine form with too many great lines to quote here but after the laughs, their sad goodbye was enough to melt the coldest of hearts. There’s just something really genuine and watchable about their sibling relationship which gave Andy’s escape attempt and quest for truth heart and grounding. Robert’s mission to clear Andy’s name started as a bit of a gloating pisstake (in the smug way only Robert can pull off and still be infuriatingly charming) but now he’s lost a significant loved one this has become his own vendetta of revenge and justice against the Whites. And what’s better than Robert Sugden on a mission? Nothing.

Rooting for You

Emmerdale - Carly And Marlon Tells Each Other How They Really Feel And Kiss - YouTubeWhen Emmerdale does a good romance they do it well and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching two unlikely characters fall for each other. Carly and Marlon seem to have what it takes to be a great couple – a spark, a good sense of fun and a shared understanding of tragedy. We’ve seen the two of them miscommunicate and pine for each other which is a winning combination to make the audience root for them together and this week saw more mixed messages until finally all it took was groin strain, a frozen lasagne and a bit of honesty before they were kissing and getting serious. After the weird direction Tracy and David have taken it’ll be nice to have another cute, warm and silly couple on screen, especially as with April around they already have a ready-made family. I’m looking forward to see how their romance progresses now that they’ve both owned up to their feelings.

Fail

Familiar Ground

vlcsnap-2016-08-20-17h52m56s216Rather than singling out a particular moment or story as my solitary fail in a strong week of Emmerdale, it’s more of a general moan about repetitive storylines. I’ve already expressed my irritation at David’s persistent proposals (and yes, that’s still happening) but this week saw two of the weaker plots fall into old territory. First there’s Belle’s storyline which although has progressed now that she’s run away after her baby lies were exposed, still gives us the tiresome scenes of ‘Ellie’ talking to her and Belle’s illness getting worse and then going unnoticed by her partner and family. We saw similar scenes when she heard Gemma’s voice (to the obliviousness of her family) and it just feels like this is a rehash of old episodes with a few more twists. Was it even that good last year to warrant it being revisited? I don’t think so. Then there’s Charity trying to relive her greatest hits with Cain in the hopes of luring him back to her – again, something we’ve seen before many times. If Emmerdale are determined to try and regain some of that Cain and Charity spark and give Coira’s marriage a rest, then can’t they find something new for Chain to do than schemes and hijinks they were doing years ago? It’s like a dodgy cover version of your favourite song. Can’t Charity just forget the camp wigs and try a bit of sincerity?

Scene of the Week (15-19 August 2016)

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Did you cry at this scene? I’m not ashamed to say that the goodbye scenes between the Sugden brothers made me have a little Tuesday night blub when the scenes aired, so for this reason alone I’m making it my Scene of the Week. You could tell the emotional gut-punch was coming when the brothers spent most of the episode quipping and sparing in the way brothers do best (bants about d*ck size, prowess in bed – you know the sort) but when the time came to say their last goodbyes they fell silent. Having caused each other endless grief over the years, it’s not surprising that the brothers spoke about their rocky relationship before Robert told Andy he loved him. Lump in the throat right there. In the time they’ve spent playing brothers Kelvin Fletcher and Ryan Hawley built a great rapport so to see their characters say farewell was really touching and I was sorry to see this onscreen relationship end. As they shook hands I think everyone was screaming “JUST HUG EACH OTHER!” until they finally did, both getting teary and the rest of us just saying “F*ck it,” and having a little cry into our tissues. This was a really poignant moment in Andy’s big exit and I’m seriously hoping we get to see the brothers reunite one day.